Cut rhubarb place over the top of each other with oranges to the side


As the gloom of January and February drag on, we have been saved by the contrasting nature of the season’s fruit. As we endeavour to live fully, though the sky is grey and we can’t leave home without our gloves. Wrapping children to stay warm on the cold cycle ride to school, somehow it is as though nature knows that we are going to need a little help. As our bodies ache for the warmth of the sun there is the arrival of the blood orange and forced rhubarb that remind us that without the dark and the cold, we wouldn’t have such splendour. The rhubarb grown in the dark creaking sheds of the Yorkshire Triangle and harvested by candlelight. The blood orange that needs the coolness of the nights in the microclimate that is created on the slopes of mount Etna to develop the deep redness within their flesh.

And perhaps it is just me, but these flashes of bright glory from nature are the truest antidepressants. I am awed by the wonder of nature and of course we choose to envelope ourselves within it and celebrate it. Our good fortune means that we are neighbours of the importers Punterella, taking their name from the Italian leafy vegetable, whom source the finest examples of both harvests. So we have had a few heady weeks, making small seasonal batch preserves of both fruits.

With a lightness of touch and care of process both fruits are transformed in a way that hightens and emphasises their own natural attributes. The Rhubarb becomes a preserve that looks like it could have been dreamed up by a child dreaming of jarred candy floss, so intense is it’s colour. The Blood Oranges combined with Campari which frankly could be mistaken for a summer holiday in a jar. And so our yearnings of comfort are sated for now until the tulips narcissi arrive.

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